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DeMorning DeBonis: June 24, 2010

TODAY IS JUNE 24, 2010 -- 82 DAYS UNTIL PRIMARY DAY

City candidates Wednesday night traipsed up to Howard University, where the lovely and accomplished ladies of Alpha Kappa Alpha hosted an all-comers forum. With candidates for council chairman, at-large, Ward 1 and Ward 5 member all in attendance, one question popped into the mind of this reporter -- where are all the women at? Not one female took the dais Wednesday night. By the time mayoral hopefuls appeared late in the evening, it seemed as though main contenders Adrian Fenty and Vincent Gray might back off their recent aggressive rhetoric in deference to the genteel company. That didn't last long. The forum ended up following a script we're coming to know well: Fenty attacks Gray's early '90s human-services directorship; Gray angrily defends his record; Fenty reads highlights from old press clips off a piece of paper; and Gray accuses him of "revisionist history." And then Leo Alexander jumps in, decrying the whole "Fenty/Gray regime." Good times. Follow my tweets for more!

AFTER THE JUMP -- Wone trial nears end -- FBI looks into Ward 8 straw poll -- Fenty puts kibosh on Gray electioneering at school -- running buddy finally gets board spot -- Michelle Obama launches fitness effort in Columbia Heights

*** MAIN COURSE ***

CLOSING TIME -- The Robert Wone conspiracy trial is expected to end today, on its 22nd day, with closing statements. Keith Alexander writes Thursday: "Defense attorneys for the three housemates [Joseph R. Price, 39, Dylan M. Ward, 40, and Victor J. Zaborsky, 44] charged with covering up the 2006 fatal stabbing of the Washington lawyer rested their case Wednesday, after one week of testimony and seven witnesses. Prosecutors had finished up last week. ... During the past week, the defense attorneys called a string of witnesses, including medical experts, a housekeeper of a former neighbor of the men, a paramedic and Ward's mother, in hopes of poking holes in the prosecution's theories. Prosecutors say that the knife found on a nightstand next to Wone's body was planted and was not the murder weapon, that Wone had been killed as much as 20 to 40 minutes before the men called 911 and that they used the delay to orchestrate the coverup." (On that last point, Rend Smith explains at City Desk why Maureen Bunyan's voice is crucial.) D.C. Superior Court Judge Lynn Leibovitz, Keith writes, "could issue her verdict Friday. But most court observers said they expect her to spend a few days considering the mounds of evidence and testimony and to render a verdict early next week."

FED UP -- Is the FBI investigating vote-buying in the Ward 8 straw poll last month? That's what activist Sandra Seegars tells colleague Tim Craig: "After Fenty prevailed over [Gray] in the poll, community activist and blogger Dorothy Brizill reported that [Ron Moten] paid several young adults to vote in the straw poll for Fenty. Moten, the co-founder of Peaceoholics, strongly denies the allegation. But Seegars has complained to former U.S. Attorney Channing D. Phillips, who is now a deputy associate attorney general, about Moten's alleged role in the campaign. Last week, according to Seegars, she got a call from an FBI agent who questioned her for 45 minutes about the upcoming election and the vote-buying allegations. ... Lindsay Godwin, an FBI public affairs specialist, said she could neither confirm nor deny the existence of an investigation. But Godwin noted the agency routinely follows up on complaints from the public. ... Moten counters that Seegars is engaged in 'old school politics.' 'Nobody paid nobody to vote in no straw poll,' Moten said."

SPIN-FREE ZONE -- Fenty, upon spotting Gray campaign workers staffing a table at Lafayette Elementary's May 15 spring fair, was "beside himself" and ordered the campaigners off school grounds. Meanwhile, "Fenty supporters worked the crowd, handing out stickers," according to Bill Turque's sources. And three days later, the following directive was issued via the DCPS general counsel's office: "The prohibition covers every kind of partisan political activity -- meetings, distribution of campaign literature, posting of campaign signs, campaign presentations by candidates, partisan candidate forums, etc." No comment from Fentyworld.

NOM CAPERS -- Remember George T. Simpson? You know, from his rejected nomination to the UDC board? Or his rejected nomination to the Public Employee Relations Board? Or his rejected nomination to the Housing Finance Agency board? Well, he finally found a high-level sinecure -- on the National Capital Planning Commission, because mayoral appointees to that body don't require council approval, Michael Neibauer reports at WBJ. "Simpson is (or was) president of D.C.-based Spectrum Management LLC, a property management firm, according to the resume attached to his 2008 UDC nomination. He also listed himself as president of Roswell, Ga.-based Alor Food Distributors. Before 2000, he directed youth and the summer food services programs for the City of Atlanta. His experience as 'Fenty running buddy' was not listed." Simpson replaces real estate agent and Real Housewife Stacie Turner.

HOW TO SAVE METRO -- Metro is allowing a crisis to go to waste, Bob McCartney argues in his Metro column today. The calamity should have been a catalyst for the region, collectively, to develop an ambitious plan to rebuild and revitalize Metro. The objective: Bring back the safe, clean, efficient transit system that made it the nation's envy when it opened in the 1970s. There have been some steps to repair damage that's been accumulating for years. But there's no sign of a decisive effort sufficient to restore the quality. A big part of the problem is that the region's top politicians still view Metro as an afterthought or a way to grandstand for partisan purposes. The latest sign of that, and it's a whopper, is the extraordinary threat by Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) to renege on Richmond's initial $12.5 million contribution to a long-sought, dedicated funding program for Metro. On the bright side, it's not too late to realize the vision." Also: BOT's Jim Dinegar says McDonnell needs to pay up.

NICKLES ON FOIA REFORM -- The FOIA fight now underway between the D.C. Council and Peter Nickles attracts the ace eye of Examiner reporter Alan Suderman. In the latest salvo, Nickles argues that open-government reforms are "misguided and unnecessary given the high level of transparency [Fenty] has brought to city government," which includes the fact that the District is now an "internationally known leader in government transparency." Mary Cheh, sponsor of the legislature, calls his arguments "a bit absurd," noting, "The facts are to the contrary, and pretty much everybody knows this." Suderman notes that "[g]ood-government advocates, lawyers and union officials lined up earlier this month to sing the praises of Cheh's proposed legislation, which would create an Open Government Office that would advise agencies on public records laws and have the power to sue an agency that failed to comply with the law."

FLOTUS IN CO-HI -- Michelle Obama visited the Columbia Heights Education Campus Wednesday to launch the new President's Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition. "Mrs. Obama also jump-roped, juggled with scarves and helped assemble trail mix snacks with the students, along with star athletes including gymnast Dominique Dawes, figure skater Michelle Kwan and NASCAR driver Carl Edwards -- all council members," AP reports -- plus Fenty, who mentioned the visit in an e-mail to campaign supporters later in the day: "As an athlete, it is great to see our nation's leaders encouraging young people to get engaged in sports and healthy living. As a lifelong District resident, it is great to know that the First Lady chose Columbia Heights Education Campus for the quality of its athletic facilities."

LIEN TIMES -- The parent of United Medical Center, Specialty Hospitals of America, was recently hit with a $500,000 in D.C. tax liens on its other hospital -- Specialty Hospital of Washington-Hadley. "Speciality Hospital's chairman, Jim Rappaport, is calling the recent liens part of a 'pattern of harassment visited upon us' by city officials related to the situation at United Medical Center, which D.C. officials are moving to auction off as early as next month. 'At no time were any requests made of [Specialty Hospital of Washington] entities for information or assertions that any sums were due to the District prior to liens being filed,' Mr. Rappaport said in an e-mail to The Washington Times. 'All of the liens are being contested,' he said. D.C. Attorney General Peter Nickles said Tuesday there was no effort to single out the company. He called arguments that it was singled out because of financial troubles at United Medical Center 'pretty weak.'"

MUTUAL ADMIRATION SOCIETY -- Is Don Peebles buddying up to Leo Alexander? James Wright reports in the Informer: "Alexander, a former television reporter and public relations executive who is a candidate for the Democratic Party nomination for mayor, said that Peebles would have been a formidable opponent. 'Anyone who has over $300 million to spend would have been a contender for mayor and had a great chance,' Alexander, 45, said. 'That type of money generates volunteers and the resources needed to run for mayor. I would have loved to hear his platform on what he wants to do for the city.' Alexander said that he has met Peebles and that he plans to talk with him in the near future."

EXTRA CREDIT -- Michael Brown bill would hand $10,000 tax credits to businesses "that prove themselves good corporate citizens by hiring D.C. workers, implementing employee wellness programs and exceeding green building standards," Neibauer reports at WBJ. "The legislation offers up to $10,000 in annual franchise tax credits for incorporated or unincorporated businesses that exceed Gold standards under the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program and those that provide paid time off for participation in tutoring or mentoring programs, tuition reimbursement for classes at the University of the District of Columbia or pro bono services to local charitable organizations. Businesses that want the credits must maintain a work force consisting of at least 40 percent District residents over the tax year for which the credit is sought."


*** SMALL PLATES ***

Girl, 6, drowns in Turkey Thicket Rec Center pool; "Witnesses said the little girl was alone in the deep end of the pool. ... One witness told FOX 5 she saw the 6-year-old girl smiling as she got on the diving board and jumped in." (Post, WTTG-TV)

One dead, one wounded in armed robbery at Florida Avenue market; police have "tremendous leads" (Post, WTTG-TV, WRC-TV)

RT @dc4d: Endorsed @KwameBrownDC, Mendelson, @MaryCheh, Thomas, @TommyWells, @MikePanetta. No one for delegate, chair, Ward 1. #dcision2010 (Twitter)

Final vote on Metro fare increases Thursday; shouldn't be any surprises. (Post)

OMG: Illegal dance floor at Local 16! (City Desk)

"How D.C. Found Money for the Howard Theatre" (Housing Complex)

DHS is having a difficult time moving families out of the D.C. General family shelter (Poverty & Policy)

Charter board votes to close KIMA school, citing "a number of violations, including the illegal enrollment of non-D.C. residents at the school to play on its basketball team, as first reported by The Post." (Post)

Former director of Brentwood postal facility up for regional job; some familiar with his handling of anthrax scare aren't happy (Post)

The government wants you to stop idling your truck (Truckinginfo.com)

In honor of Mamie "Peanut" Johnson (WAMU-FM)

It's hot. (Post)

So hot that they're picking up the trash early (G'town Dish)


*** DESSERT ***

Joe Heim writes in Style Thursday about a new urban landmark: "It was never intended to be a shrine. Jewel Lewis-Hall just couldn't help herself. On the day Michael Jackson died last year, the 55-year-old grandmother placed a photo of the King of Pop on the cluttered front porch of her Northeast Washington rowhouse. She added another. And another and another. Soon 10 pairs of Michael Jackson's eyes stared at passersby on this busy block of Eighth Street between Florida Avenue and rapidly gentrifying H Street. Then 25 pairs. As the months went by, Lewis-Hall and her daughter, Maxcine Lewis, 27, kept adding to their public display of affection. Posters. Album covers. A beaded glove. Stuffed animals. Giant red plastic hearts. A rose. ... On some days a television placed on the porch plays Jackson videos and concert footage. It's hard to walk up the steps and into the house without knocking a Jackson likeness off its pedestal. Intended or not, a shrine had been built."


*** ON THE MENU ***

Council takes up I-395 air rights deal, Dupont liquor license moratoriums -- epic hacks 'n' flacks get-together at super secret special location

By Mike DeBonis  |  June 24, 2010; 9:39 AM ET
Categories:  Morning Mike , The District  
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